At the end of the Indian wars, the western coast is quiet. In a fort at the edge of the Pacfic Ocean, a frustrated group of misfits are left behind while troops move north on a training mission. The soldiers fight boredom with chores, games and mindless cruelty. James, a new recruit, finds himself the frequent victim of their humiliating jokes.
One day a woman, half-drowned, washes ashore outside the fort. The soldiers bring her inside where she revives. She refuses to speak and gives no indication about her identity or her past. Distrusting the other soldiers, the captain chooses James to be her guard.
James must grapple with his growing feelings for this mysterious woman and the resentment of the other soldiers. Meanwhile, the woman, haunted by memories of abuse and violence, begins to come back to life while fending off the attention of the soldiers.
Meanwhile, the woman, haunted by memories of abuse and violence, begins to return to some semblance of life. Her initial hostility to James begins to soften as she spends more time with him and observes his humiliations and frustrations with fort life. She becomes the single object of gossip among the soldiers, who see her through the filter of ugly prejudice about womem.
As her relationship with James grows deeper, hostile forces grow in the fort. Anna is assaulted and when she attempts to confront her attacker, is further humiliated. Torn between her need to prove the soldiers ugly gossip unfounded and grappling with her growing passion for James, her resolve and new found happiness begins to shatter. A letter from her husband arrives, and fate brings her past back with terrible force and tragic consequences.
Silent Anna gives us a fresh portrait of the west unlike those in genre westerns, a sixteen-year-old director has created a visually stunning, haunting love story in the tradition of the finest and most moving American folk tales.